Today we’re starting a new series. In this series, for each article I’ll be taking a look at a wrestler and detailing their history before picking five dream matches for them, if they could go to any promotion around the world. Our first pick is the wildly popular, cutest professional wrestler in the world, Maki fucking Itoh.
Maki Itoh (伊藤 麻希) is a Japanese professional wrestler, actress, model, and idol (formerly of the group LinQ), who wrestles for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, where she is a former International Princess Champion. She is currently a member of the idol group Tokiwoikiru (トキヲイキル).
Itoh made her debut in show business as part of the second generation of LinQ members, officially joining the group on February 11, 2012. She was placed in the group’s Qty team.
As a LinQ member, her first experience with professional wrestling was in 2013, when she was invited by president Sanshiro Takagi to participate in an “Idol Lumberjack 4 Way Match” at a DDT Pro-Wrestling show in Ryogoku Kokugikan. In the same year, she played a supporting role in the two-part thriller film ADA.
In 2014 she was selected as a finalist in the Kodansha alternative beauty pageant, Miss iD, and although she was not selected for the main prize, she received a special prize given to her personally by television producer Nobuyuki Sakuma. Her participation in Miss iD led to her being featured on the song Heisei Shibou Yuugi by the band Urbangarde. In the same year, she also participated in the 6th anniversary show of Kyushu Pro Wrestling, “Kinniku Yamakasa ’14”, where she was the official second for Gabaiji-chan.
In 2015, Itoh played a role in the horror film Obakeyashiki Retsuden: Senritsu Meikyuu MAX alongside fellow LinQ members Yusa Sugimoto and Kana Fukuyama. She also played a main role in the short film Inochi no Tokei, written and soundtracked by LinQ member Manami Sakura and featuring a cast made exclusively of the group’s members. She appeared on the variety show God Tongue in June, drawing attention from the show’s hosts due to the size of her head.
In 2016, Itoh played herself in the film Minna Suitouto (みんな好いとうと), a fictional movie based on LinQ and featuring the group’s songs. LinQ were signed to the major label Avex later that year. In August she appeared on Masahiro Nakai’s talk show Nakai no Mado, in a special episode featuring “people with unfortunate faces”.
In 2017, it was announced that the lineup of LinQ would be rearranged, and that a number of members would leave the group. Those members who were removed from LinQ would be featured in a new group focused on musical theater, but only if LinQ could sell 1,000 tickets to concerts held in Tokyo’s Nakano Sun Plaza and the Fukuoka Civic Hall. Itoh personally performed wrestling and music on the streets in order to sell the tickets and promote the group, and they succeeded in meeting the requirements. However, on June 19, 2017, Itoh was removed from the group’s lineup along with 6 other members, who were moved into the “entertainment group” Tokiwoikiru. Her response to being dismissed caused “Maki Itoh” to become the #1 Twitter trend in Japan at the time.
After her removal from LinQ, Itoh turned her wrestling tag team with regular partner Mizuki, Itoh Respect Army (伊藤リスペクト軍団, Itō Risupekuto Gundan), into an idol group. The pair released their first CD single, Setsunairo, on January 4, 2018. Upon successfully selling 400 CDs, a music video was produced for the lead track. The group appeared together on internet variety show The Night with host Mari Yaguchi, where they performed Setsunairo and demonstrated wrestling moves live in the studio.
Itoh performed her first show as a solo idol at Tokyo Idol Festival 2018: Other Recommend Live, a battle of the bands-style concert where idols nominated by judges compete for a spot at the prestigious Tokyo Idol Festival main event. Nominated by writer Go Yoshida, Itoh performed Setsunairo twice, along with an impromptu a cappella cover of nerve by BiS. Although she did not make it through as a musical performer, she later appeared as a part of the DDT Street Wrestling show held at the festival.
In 2019, on July 22, Itoh released the digital single Brooklyn The Hole, a solo recording of a song originally performed by Tokiwoikiru, which she currently uses as her wrestling entrance theme.
DDT Pro-Wrestling (2013–2016)
From 2013 to 2016, Itoh made sporadic appearances at DDT Pro-Wrestling shows. On December 15, 2013, at the “World Third Total Hakata” event, she teamed with Danshoku Dino and Makoto Oishi in a two-on-three handicap match, where they defeated Sanshiro Takagi and Toru Owashi.
On December 13, 2015, at “Super Star Lanes 2015”, Itoh took part in a battle royal for the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, where she was the first eliminated.
Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (2016–present)
On December 11, 2016, at the DDT Pro-Wrestling event “Road to SUPER SAND-Dramatic Dream Tonkotsu-” in Fukuoka Hakata Star Lane, Itoh made her official DDT debut, where she was defeated by Miyu Yamashita.
On January 4, 2017, Itoh officially joined Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. On March 13, 2017 at At This Time, Get Excited In Nerima! Itoh was defeated by Mil Clown in a three-way match also featuring Maho Kurone.
After her dismissal from the idol group LinQ, Itoh stopped using the group’s song Calorie Nante as her entrance theme, instead choosing to perform an on-the-spot a cappella version of the Noriyuki Makihara song Mou Koi Nante Shinai. This continued until the beginning of October 2017, when she began entering to Setsunairo by Tokiwoikiru.
In July, Itoh participated in the “Tokyo Princess Cup” held at Shinjuku Mura Studio. In the first round, she fought against Shoko Nakajima, but was eliminated.
Itoh made her US debut at DDT Coming to America where she wrestled Miyu Yamashita. The next day she appeared at Joey Ryan’s Penis Party event organized by Joey Ryan where she fought in a multi-man match for the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, but was defeated by the champion Yoshihiko.
On October 2nd 2018, at “YES! Wonderland 2018”, Itoh would face future AEW Women’s World Champion and wrestling prodigy Riho – losing by double knee strike.
On October 10, 2019, Itoh would win her first title winning the TJPW International Princess Championship at “My life; let’s enjoy!!” defeating Yuna Manase by reversing a pin into the Itoh Special (Texas Cloverleaf).
In 2019, Itoh’s long-standing tag team with her partner Mizuki, Itoh Respect Army, was officially disbanded after a singles match between the two. Itoh later recruited British wrestler Chris Brookes to replace Mizuki, renaming the team to “NEO Itoh Respect Army”. After leaving his tour of Japan and returning to the United Kingdom, Brookes continued to represent the NEO Itoh Respect Army by wearing the team’s official T-shirt and using Itoh’s trademark kokeshi headbutt during shows. Itoh and Brookes had their first match as a tag team on November 3 at DDT’s Ultimate Party 2019.
On January 5th, 2019, Itoh would lose the International Princess Championship to Thunder Rosa, who also defeated Mizuki the day before on TJPW’s signature January 4th show.
All Elite Wrestling (2021)
On the February 3, 2021 edition of AEW Dynamite, it was announced that Itoh would be participating in the AEW Women’s World Title Eliminator tournament. She lost to Ryo Mizunami in the first round which aired on February 15. At Revolution, Itoh made a surprise appearance as Britt Baker’s mystery partner, replacing Rebel. They were victorious over Thunder Rosa and Riho. This was Itoh’s last appearance for AEW as she returned to Japan and TJPW shortly after this match and has been there ever since.
Dream Booking – Maki Itoh
Now it’s time to book us some dream matches for the beautiful and talented Maki Itoh. Given her relative inexperience in the ring, and the way she has been booked thus far in her career, I will be picking five more experienced women that Itoh could learn from and continue to grow as a performer by working with. Seeing as how this article is pretty long already, I won’t be going into too much detail about why I think Maki Itoh should work with each woman. It should be pretty self explanatory given what I’ve said prior to the list.
5. Asuka (WWE) – 17 years experience
So I picked Asuka, fka Kana, for the number five spot today. Asuka is a highly talented and experienced wrestler, having 17 years as a pro under her belt. Someone like this would be able to give Maki Itoh the help and tutoring that she needs. It would be awesome to see those two in the ring together anyway. Maki with her idgaf attitude and Asuka with her presence and talent. She’s been a stalwart at the top of WWE’s women’s division for years now and has earned that spot. She’s one of the most talented women on their roster. Given their styles, I think Asuka would really be beneficial to Maki Itoh if they had a chance to work together.
4. Mickie James (Freelancer) – 22 Years Experience
Oh Mickie James.. WWE really dropped the ball with you on your last run. But that said, Mickie is a 20+ year veteran of the sport and has maintained a high level throughout her career. Much like Asuka and the others on this list, the years experience is why I want to see Maki Itoh work with her. There is so much that Mickie could teach Itoh-chan and it’s a damn shame we haven’t had a chance to see these two in the ring together. Maybe that can change in the future, if Maki comes back to the USA.. But for now, this is just a dream.
3. Hikaru Shida (AEW) – 12 Years Experience
Hikaru Shida carried the AEW Women’s division throughout the pandemic era. She’s been nothing short of amazing since her time began on the young companies dime and she has proven that she is amongst the best in the world. Recently, she lost her title to Dr Britt Baker, DMD and she’s got nowhere to go but climb back through the rankings. Now, while Shida was champion, AEW held a tournament to decide her next challenger. That was won by Ryo Mizunami, obviously, but a lot of fans were really hoping that Maki Itoh would beat the odds and challenge Shida for the belt. If Maki gets to come back to the US, a singles program with Shida would be just what the doctor ordered. Sure, they had a six-woman tag match against each other but that doesn’t count. Anyone who is a fan of Maki Itoh would love to see her in the ring with someone on the level of Hikaru Shida.
2. Mayu Iwatani (Stardom) – 10 Years Experience
When you talk about the best female wrestlers in the world today, two names stand out amongst the rest. One is Io Shira. The other, Mayu Iwatani. Iwatani, Shirai and Kairi Hojo were once regarded as the three best women on the planet for professional wrestling. Kairi has seemingly retired from wrestling and Io Shirai is in the US now, so if you want a dream match in Japan it has to be Mayu Iwatani. Mayu is all around phenomenal, able to use speed and agility as well as power and technical skills. She’s the total package in the ring and it stands to reason that any chance Maki Itoh has to be in the ring with someone like Iwatani needs to be taken. Two completely different personalities but both want to be the best. Who better, in their native land, to take Itoh-chan under her wing than Mayu Iwatani?
1. Io Shirai (NXT) – 14 Years Experience
Now, I bet you’re wondering just why I would want Maki Itoh to step into the ring with Io Shirai. Well, much like the previous entry, Io is widely regarded as one of, if not the, best performers in the world today. There is no disputing it. Io Shirai carried the NXT Women’s Division on her back for the better part of a year before losing her title to Raquel Gonzales at Take Over. Since then, Io took a bit of a break and has returned to seemingly set her sights on the NXT Women’s Tag Titles. The Genius of the Sky could make Itoh-chan look so good in the ring.. It’s actually scary to think about. Who knows, maybe Itoh could add some new moves to her arsenal if she learned from Io.
Thanks for tuning in to our first entry! I’ll definitely be doing more of these as I can and I think next will be another Joshi sensation… Stay tuned!